Minister for Education and Science Launches TCD Anti-Bullying DVD ‘Schools Have the Potential to Reduce Bullying’

Posted on: 12 October 2006

“Schools have the potential to significantly reduce the level of school bullying and violence and it is essential for all schools in Ireland to develop awareness, commitment and skills to address this issue,” stated Trinity College’s Head of the School of Education, Professor Mona O’Moore, at the launch of an educational resource on bullying developed by the TCD Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC).

The Minister for Education and Science, Ms Mary Hanafin TD, launched the educational resource Silent Witnesses  which consists of a DVD and workbook for second level schools on  October 11 last. It aims to assist schools and parents to prevent and reduce the level of peer aggression, school bullying and violence.

Commenting on the significance of the initiative, the Minister stated:”Bullying – in whatever form it takes – is always wrong. As educators our role is to enable victims of bullying behaviour to know who they can talk to and how to deal with it, when it occurs.  Young people should learn how to recognise bullying behaviour and know that they should never tolerate it.  At school level, a policy on bullying can only work if the children, teachers, the principal, parents and Board of Management all sign up to it and adhere to it.  This new educational pack, Silent Witness, will prove very useful for all members of the school community in their efforts to prevent bullying behaviour. “

The DVD, which was produced by Animo Communications, contains three video modules specifically designed to be used in the classroom and includes a series of dramatised pieces in which young Irish actors play the parts of people being bullied, people who ignore the bullying, and bullies.  The result is an engaging and powerful set of visual tools for educating teenagers on bullying.

Recent research conducted by the TCD Anti-Bullying Centre indicates that bullying leads to stress related illness not only in the person who is bullied but also in those who witness bullying and are not able to intervene or defend a victim.  The stress experienced by victims of bullying can sometimes lead to suicide.

The statistics gathered in a recent survey by the TCD Centre are a stark reminder of the extent of the bullying problem in Ireland and the manner in which  it negatively affects the quality of so many people’s lives. Out of 9,599 primary school children, 1,777 pupils (18.6%) reported they were bullied occasionally; 807 (8.4%) stated they were moderately bullied; 480 (4.3%) claimed they were frequently bullied (once a week or more often).  There is almost certainly under-reporting of bullying, particularly among girls.  A total of 2,524 children (or 26.4%) stated they had taken part in bullying other children at school during the term of the survey.

Out of 10,843 post-primary pupils surveyed, 1,172 (10.8%) reported occasional bullying, 316 (2.9%) were bullied sometimes, with 207 (or 1.9%) bullied frequently.  Again, under-reporting was inferred – as 8.6% of pupils said they had been subjected to bullying at least once in the 5 days preceding the survey.  A total of 1,606 pupils  (15%) admitted to bullying others during school hours.

The survey also showed an increase in moderate and frequent victimisation for both boys and girls in second year of senior school.  And to illustrate the way in which bullying affects even those who were not directly involved, 27% of primary and 38% of post-primary pupils did nothing when they saw another pupil of their own age being bullied, while feeling they should be trying to do something.

Besides taking place in the form of verbal, physical or psychological abuse in and outside school premises, there is the added dimension of bullying in the ‘Information Age’ of text messages, e-mails, Internet message boards and websites being used as instruments of bullying.

Bullying as a phenomenon is now a weekly feature in national newspapers, as parents recount their families’ and their school-going children’s experiences when bullying happens.